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Wild weather: Flood fears prompt evacuations in North Dunedin; Landslip hits home at Christchurch port of Lyttelton

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Wild weather has hammered the country yet again this week in the ninth severe weather event to hit Aotearoa in the last two months as experts explain how climate change could be a factor. Video / NZ Herald

Dunedin Civil Defence Emergency Management is this evening evacuating a small number of North Dunedin residents close to the Water of Leith.

The Dunedin City Council this afternoon advised that Campus Watch were door-knocking affected homes, between Montgomery Ave and Leith St (Central), to warn residents of possible flooding.

In an update shortly before 7.30pm CDEM said it was working with Police and Fire and Emergency New Zealand to evacuate residents from about 35 properties as a precautionary measure.

Evacuated residents were advised to stay with friends or family living in higher in areas if possible.

For anyone needing accommodation, an evacuation centre has opened at Dunedin North Intermediate School on North Rd.

A DCC spokesperson said CDEM was also keeping a close eye on Lindsay Creek in North East Valley. As a precaution, several patients had been evacuated from the Otago Community Hospice to Mercy Hospital.

The spokesperson said sandbags were available at The Valley Project, next to North East Valley School, and at Victoria Rd car park beside the Dunedin Ice Stadium in South Dunedin, and in Mosgiel at the Memorial Park car park.

Residents were being asked to leave some properties in North Dunedin on Tuesday evening. Photo / Craig Baxter
Residents were being asked to leave some properties in North Dunedin on Tuesday evening. Photo / Craig Baxter

Meanwhile, Emergency Management Otago earlier asked people to remain vigilant of water levels in their area overnight, particularly in areas more susceptible to flooding, as heavy rain continues.

A slow-moving front has been moving southwards down the South Island today and is expected to continue overnight through to late Wednesday morning, when the rain is expected to begin easing.

Emergency Management Otago Group Controller Matt Alley asked people to check their council websites, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and Facebook pages for updates.

“Residents should continue to observe boil or conserve water notices and to ensure their household plan, emergency supplies including stored water and getaway kits are prepared.

“We’re keeping a very close watching brief on the situation right across Otago, and are ready to escalate if necessary,” he said.

A swollen Water of Leith in North Dunedin on Tuesday evening. Photo / Vaughan Elder
A swollen Water of Leith in North Dunedin on Tuesday evening. Photo / Vaughan Elder

Emergency Management said areas more vulnerable include, but are not limited to:

• SH1 is likely to close north of Maheno at Kakanui river and north of Hampden at Big Kuri Creek. due to flood waters and motorists are discouraged from travelling north unless essential.

• Mosgiel near the Silver Stream Spillway in Gordon Rd in particular

• Henley township on the Taieri

• Leith St, particularly between the foot and road bridges on the left bank of the Water of the Leith

• Lindsay Creek, near the Hospice on North Rd

• Milton, due to run-off from surrounding hills around Milton

• SH1 at Waikouaiti

• Parts of South Dunedin, for example around Bathgate Park

Landslip hits home at Christchurch port of Lyttelton

Fire crews at a home hit by a landslip in Lyttelton. Photo / George Heard
Fire crews at a home hit by a landslip in Lyttelton. Photo / George Heard

Heavy rain that flooded much of Christchurch has brought down a slip into the back of a house in the port town of Lyttelton.

Dirt and mud has come to rest around the two-storey home in Walkers Rd, high up on the hillside above the township.

Two fire crews and a number of firefighters from Lyttelton are at the scene in an effort to protect the house.

Using shovels they have dug out mud from around the house and created trenches for any excess water that comes off the hill to run into.

A river of water as wide as half a metre has come off the property and was running down the road.

Civil Defence has also attended the Walkers Rd location to assess the current situation.

Fire crews clear a slip around the back of a home in Lyttelton. Photo / George Heard
Fire crews clear a slip around the back of a home in Lyttelton. Photo / George Heard

The owners of the property were at home and, concerned about the situation, have moved possessions out of the house.

Nearby neighbours have also been at the scene, concerned by the landslip and worried about water coming off the hill and down into their properties.

Christchurch has been hit with torrential rain since Monday night, the Avon River has breached its banks and surface flooding has occurred in a number of streets and properties across the city.

More rain is forecast to fall through to Wednesday, with snow also falling on the alpine passes, closing highways.

A new record monthly rainfall of over 212mm has been set for the month of July, beating the previous record of 199mm, set in 1978.

Rain set to close highway north of Dunedin

The heavy rain belting parts of the country looks set to close State Highway 1 between Dunedin and Oamaru overnight.

While several South Island highways affected by snow and flooding earlier today have reopened, North Otago’s rivers are rising and very likely to cause highway closures, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency says.

Graeme Hall, System Manager for Waka Kotahi in Otago, says SH1 is likely to close in coming hours north of Maheno at the Kakanui River and north of Hampden at Big Kuri Creek.

There are no detours available so drivers may need to postpone their journeys. Mr Hall said the flooding affecting these areas was expected to continue until at least 9am on Wednesday.

The Waitaki District Council is warning people to stay home as flooding has closed more than 20 roads.

It is closely monitoring the Kakanui River and says other rivers and waterways remain manageable – but are rising.

The council says it is expecting more closures and flooding tonight.

Local schools have been told the roads will not be opened in time for the school run tomorrow morning.

Flooding on State Highway 1 north of Maheno this afternoon. Photo / Rebecca Ryan
Flooding on State Highway 1 north of Maheno this afternoon. Photo / Rebecca Ryan

NZTA also warned of a rising Waikouaiti River, saying there was a risk of flooding across SH1 there, and crews were monitoring water levels over the road.

In Dunedin, motorists were urged to take “extreme care” on the Northern Motorway (Dunedin to Waitati), as uneven surfaces and flooding were making conditions dangerous.

There was also flooding in several places on the highway to Port Chalmers (SH88).

NZ Army staff have been put on standby in the city, owing to the forecast heavy rain.

Earlier this afternoon a police spokesman said officers were responding to reports of a slip partially blocking one lane of Portobello Rd, near Company Bay about 2.50pm.

The slip would likely become a council issue but police would attend to assist with traffic, the spokesman said.

Further south, there is a heavy rain watch in place for Clutha until 1pm tomorrow, and surface flooding is expected on some roads.

The Clutha District Council said contractors would continue to monitor the roads, and flooding signs would be erected where possible.

MetService earlier said a front was forecast to move slowly southwards over northern and central New Zealand today, bringing a broad band of rain with some heavy falls, and easterly to northeasterly gales.

An associated low to the west of the upper North Island would also move slowly southwards, then weaken and cross the South Island tomorrow.

Christchurch sets new rainfall record for July

Over 55mm of rain has fallen in the garden city in the last 24 hours, setting a new record for rain in the month of July of 212mm.

The previous record for July was set in 1978 with 199mm.

MetService said Christchurch is “extremely wet” following heavy rain overnight. It comes after the ground was waterlogged in last week’s downpours of over 100mm.

The water is so high on Edgeware Rd outside Peter Timbs butcher shop it has been forced to close.

Water covers the floor inside the shop making it impossible to open.

Last week the popular Christchurch butchery also suffered flooding issues, water lapping at the front door.

The Avon River, which flows through the centre of Christchurch and out to sea, has breached its banks along Oxford Terrace near Barbadoes St.

Residents near the Port Hills are being urged to watch for rapidly rising streams and rivers, with surface flooding and slips.

with Otago Daily Times

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